Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Heaven is a Wonderful Place

“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:3-5).

The Bible often refers to heaven as the final abode of the righteous. Those familiar with the Christian faith understand, of course, that it is intended as a reward for the faithful — a good thing. But, what does the Bible reveal heaven to be?

First, the definition of the term. The word heaven comes from a root word that means “to rise, rear up.” It is used to reference the sky, and by extension, the abode of God. The term implies, as it is used in scripture, happiness, power and eternity.

It is, of course, used to refer to something other than the abode of God. It is used in scripture to refer to the atmosphere. “And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:18). It is also used to refer to outer space, as in Genesis 1:14-18 where the term is used to identify the place of the great lights (the sun and the moon), and the stars. But, the primary use of the term designates the abode of God, and the final abode of the righteous.

In the Bible, heaven is shown to be a place. It is not a state of mind. You have heard something like, “I was in heaven while eating that ice cream sundae.” This is an accommodative use of the word, and should not be taken literally. Heaven is also not malleable, that is, different for each person. It is common to hear someone say things like, “Heaven for me is a beautiful golf course, where the temperature is always 72 degrees, and every ball you hit goes straight!” Or, “I just know that my dad is up there in heaven, picking on his guitar with Elvis Presley.” The imagination of man is incapable of designing such a place of joy and contentment that has been created by the Almighty God.

There are descriptions given in God’s word that help us to understand the nature of the reward. Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3). Peter describes heaven as a place of perfection, contrasting it with the present universe, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Paul describes heaven as a place of rest, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Consider for a moment the last words of Jesus in the quote above, from John 14, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Ultimately, the glory of heaven is in the presence of God. Ultimately, the reward of heaven is in abiding in that presence. That is what makes heaven so special!

That, and the fact that the abode is eternal. Those who go to heaven will rest in His presence forever! This is the promise revealed by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Several times it has been mentioned that heaven is the final abode of the righteous. While all have sinned, thus deserving condemnation, God sent His son as a sacrifice for sins. Obedience to the gospel of the Lord reconciles man to God, and gives that man hope for heaven. Paul said, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).

Notice the “if” in the above verse. If we are children, then we are heirs. If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified together. Entrance into heaven is conditioned upon our adoption as children. Hell is the final abode of those who have no relationship with God.

Heaven is a wonderful place. Are you among the saved who will one day go there?